Mooney Mountain Guides
Twice a year Mooney Mountain guides offer’s and exceptional trip, ascending Mt Washington with an overnight in the observatory. This trip is great for those who want to summit Washington and aren’t sure if they can do it in a day, or those who have already done it and are looking for something new.
We get a late start from Pinkahm Notch after going over clothing and equipment needs. This puts on on the summit mid afternoon. After the obligatory pictures and high fives we head inside to prepared coffee and snacks! After settling in and getting comfortable the head of the Observatory staff gives us a brief tour and intro to the building and the scientific work going on in the Observatory. We then have dinner with the whole crew, chatting up the volunteers and scientists and getting great stories. After dinner they were nice enough to open up the museum for us to learn more about the science and history behind Mt Washington. The next day we wake up at a reasonable hour, have a grand breakfast and mosey on down the mountain.
Doing the trip this way certainly lessens the technical demands of a usual day hiking up and down Washington. Despite that, its still an awesome accomplishment and an exceptional experience. We book these days far in advance each winter and spots frequently go fast. if you’re interested in joining us next year for one of our two over night Observatory trips ( 1 in Feb, 1 in March) get in touch early!
(click on any image to begin viewing in gallery mode)
The odds are not in your favor in Las Vegas – the house always wins.
Each morning as we departed the LaQuinta Inn, Jerry and I hoped we would be ahead of the game. This idea begins at the start of each climbing day and continues right up to the end. Planning and preparation are certainly key components but there are times when luck is on your side.
Early start times yield cool temperatures for the long approaches and the views of the Red Rock range can be magnificent.
Leading rock climbs is the ultimates experience for the climber. For those who put in their time and stick with the sport, leading provides the finest moments. Movement comes in first, one must have experience and know how to climb and be solid with the level they are leading. Terrain assessment, this is the art of finding the traveled line. Next is technical systems, the kraft of protection or placing gear, this kraft requires a careful approach as one looks for solid rock, the right piece, and a surface that will secure gear to the wall. The mental focus needed is a huge component – to keep calm and cool only comes with years of practice and training.
Straight Shooter – Jerry is not a gambling man – he sends this piece to the chains.
Physical Graffitti one of the areas finest moderate crack lines – with Jerry on the sharp end.
The Conundrum Crag has three very nice sport routes. The crag is located behind Kraft Mountain and is a long enough approach from the cars that you may likely have the area all to yourself.
Geronimo was the icing on the cake. Throughout the week Jerry refined his skills to put together this masterpiece of a lead. Five pitches of quality rock with the entire route void of bolts put Jerry to work. Finding the line, protecting the route, setting anchors, rope management all add up to a big day on the stone.
Fun climbing on cracks with steep pocketed rock on the sides.
The prize Geronimo in full view.
Red Rocks is one on the best multi pitch areas in the country. These canyon are loaded with climbs in full sun or shade. Climbers come here year round but you will find spring and fall to be the best.
The Green Wave?
That is when you pass through all the traffic lights on the way to the cliff – nice way to start the day.
Thanks Jerry for an amazing week together.
The Mooney Mountain Guides were out in force this past weekend. below you’ll find a couple of snippets of what went on.
Lynn and Mike visited us from South Carolina for their third attempt on Mt Washington. In the past, bad weather has thwarted their attempts. This past Friday looked like the best weather window of the long weekend, so we made hasty plans and changed our schedule around to get them the best shot of success.
Sure enough the forecasts delivered. Fog and steady snow hampered visibility, but coupled with 15mph winds at worst, created an eerily calm atmosphere while on the belly of the beast.
Mike and Lynn finally got their white whale.
After a day to rest up on Saturday they rejoined us for a sunny morning of ice climbing on Newfound Lake
On Saturday, good friends Connor and Yaffe joined us for a bitterly cold and bitterly awesome day of ice climbing in Crawford Notch. Connor has climbed ice before, but not in a while, and Yaffe was a first timer.
We chose the Trestle slabs as our starting location. This is an ideal classroom for ice climbing, with a 100′ slab of low angle ice, and a wall of low ice bulges to practice swinging and kicking on, with a particularly fluffy crash pad at the moment.
Connor on the North Face of Everst. Ok, fine. It’s just a spindrift filled picture of the Trestle slabs, but hardcore nonetheless.
After our warm up there we went to Standard route to finish the day. This meant that Yaffe got in his first ice climbing and his first multi pitch climb in one day. Not bad, Yaffe. Not bad.
While I was on sunny south facing ice Sunday, another group of three was battling brutal winds on Washington. This tough group made the summit on a day when winds reached near 100 mph and the cold was COLD!
Hopefully some pictures to come.
With most of the crew staving off frostbite and hypothermia in what finally feels like winter, two MMG guides traveled to Red Rocks NV where they are staving off sun burn and dehydration!
Derrek and Alex are out there for a week guiding a handful of students from Middlebury College’s outdoor program.
This is the premier destination for winter time rock climbing, and Im sure a welcome reprieve from the cold of a NH winter.
Thanks to all our guests and students who joined us this weekend! We look forward to hopefully seeing you in the mountains again soon.
The Mooney Mountain Guide Crew
My first climbs at Lake Willoughby were in the mid 1980’s. From then on – year after year I have been venturing to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom in search of ice. The lake as we call it – is home to the longest, steepest water ice climbs in the northeastern US. The amazing setting is set with a southwestern exposure high above the lake on the flank of Mt Piscah. By far the Lake stands by itself as a highly respected ice climbing area.
From the highway Mt Piscah comes into view. It is days like these that bring out the brilliance of the area – clear sky, cold temps, and no wind.
Max and Cheyenne going for the Last Gentleman – another prize route at the Lake.
Jerry reaching high for the sticks into the ice.
Hundreds of feet off the deck – truly amazing exposure on the ice.
The Lake is the place I want to share with good friends – Jerry and I on the top of the Promenade.
Steep exciting rappels down the routes – walk offs are along way from here.
The Gentleman and Promenade Routes rise above.
For me this has been a great year at the Lake and its only mid January.
Looking forward to more exciting climbing at this amazing venue.
Jackson and I have climbed together since the summer of 2010. It all started on the warm sunny rocks of Rumney, then led to bigger routes at Whitehorse. As the years went by Jackson decided he could not wait until the summer anymore. He was determined to get out in winter which meant he was in for a try on a mountain/ice climb in NH.
The NH mountains and ice climbs are no easy task. The winter environment is harsh and the terrain is usually very rough, this all adds up to pretty tough conditions for anyone. Jackson is 10 years of age and for most kids this would not be a fun time. Jackson keeps focused as he climbs up the mountain while maintaining a steady pace. On the ice he climbs like a champ, he overcomes each difficult section one at a time and always going for the top.
Yesterday was a huge achievement for Jackson, Mike and I as we ascended the Cleft on a very cold winter day. Jackson never voiced one complaint, he just kept moving up the mountain one kick, one stick at a time.
For me it is totally awesome to have this opportunity to work with Jackson – a young climber/skier with a huge Quest for Adventure!!!
Three is good company – a fine day in the mountains.
On approach to the Cleft on Mt Willard.
Jackson equipped and ready for ice climbing in the mountains
The Cleft – a deep chasm choked with ice – amazing!!!
Jackson and Mike climbing together up the narrow Cleft.
The Final top out onto level ground – time for a recharge with hot drinks and food.
On our way in to the Cleft we passed a beautiful climb – the Rocket in Crawford Notch.
Thanks to Jackson and Mike for closing out 2014 with this exciting day in the mountains.
Many of the Lake Willoughby climbs are ready for action and there are a few that need another week or two before the ice is fat enough to climb. The route Plug and Chug pictured below could be climbed but the sun was to much and throughout the day large daggers of ice were falling off from the intense heat that gets absorbed by the rock. The morning temps were 5 degrees but the mid day high was thirty two. Ice climbing can turn on frenzy type attitude with climbers – everyone wants first sticks.
Read Ryans blog in the link below and stay safe out there.
Great picture of Plug And Chug – it makes one want to climb it. See the climber at the base.
A smart decision to descend was made by this climber as he decided conditions were not right for this day.
Jerry and I climbed Renormalization on the far right. The route was shaded and far enough away from the daggers hanging above.
This is the easy line in the Mindbender area – just another stout grade 4 route at the Lake.
Pure fun in the afternoon – plastic/ buttery type ice at the tablets.
The end of a perfect day – it was a beauty, calm and warm.
The guides at Mooney Mountain Guides are very pleased to be supported by Petzl. Over the years many of us have found favorites in Petzl’s line from the Nomic’s and Dart’s on ice to the Spirit Express draw and Gri Gri on sport climbs. One of the reasons the relationship between Petzl and MMG is so great is because both companies have a passion for sharing knowledge and spreading climbing education. At MMG it’s our job on many days to act as educators in the climbing realm, and it’s what we truly love to do. At Petzl, they go beyond making and selling some of the best gear on the market, they also produce and distribute educational literature in their catalogs and on their website, towards the end of a safer more knowledgable climbing community.
For that reason I was excited this week to pull Petzl’s latest catalog out of the mail and check out, not only the new gear, but the new tech tips they offered up. I was thrilled to see that they tackled a common safety hazard in cleaning sport routes, one we see almost turn dangerous at Rumney, far to often.
The scenario starts when the final climber leads an overhanging, or traversing sport route. On the way back down they have to clean the draws as they lower. A standard practice is to clip a spare quickdraw from your belay rope to the line of rope running through the draws. This way, as you lower, you can stay close to the rope line to mor easily clean the quick draws, as opposed to lowering straight down and away from the wall. This works well until the last draw. We see two dangerous scenarios here.
1.) Climber stays clipped into belay line and unclips last draw. In this scenario the climber swings out from under the overhang like a pendulum. Since they are clipped into the belay line, as they swing they drag belayer with them, possibly dragging them across the ground or into an object.
2.) Belayer lowers out away from the wall with the first draw off the ground still clipped in. This causes a lot of slack as the rope goes up through first bolt, out to climber, up to anchor, and finally back down to the climber. At this point the climber makes the poor decision to unclip themselves from the belay strand. As that extra slack is introduced into the system the climber drops, possibly decking.
Erik Thatcher on Social Outcast at Rumney. A prime sight for this type of accident.
In both of those scenarios there are several easy work arounds. The first, and safest of all, is to have the final person up a steep climb top rope the climb on the strand of rope running through the draws, cleaning as they go. For severely angled routes such as Peer Pressure at Bonsai, this is the best method. For scenario number 2, the climber can be lowered to the ground without unclipping, so long as there is enough rope (knot your rope end just in case!)
For a lot of climbs at Rumney, the best way around this accident involves clipping into the second to last draw above the ground. I have to do this frequently at Bonsai, and select other routes like the Crusher or Cereal killer. I’ll take the draw connected to my harness, unclip it from the rope and clip it into the rope end carabiner of the draw on the second to last bolt. My belayer then loses me until my weight is on these two draws. Then you unclip the rope from the second draw, and reach down to clean the first draw from the bolt and rope. At this point your belayer braces themselves and you check behind you for obstructions you might run into, before unclipping and taking what should be a safe and moderate swing.
Whitney Steiner on The Crusher, another possible location for this technique
Many climbers at Rumney are starting their progression at the gym and working up to climbing outside at sport crags. I see two primary groups coming out of this situation. Some are those who climb moderates, and cautiously transition into leading similar grades outside. Others are generally younger climbers who quickly progress to leading hard routes on plastic, and then jump outside to do the same, of course there are all sorts of people in between. Mooney Mountain Guides works with many people who would fall into that former group, giving them learn to lead instruction and facilitating their transition outside. The latter group, it seems, rarely seeks out qualified instruction, and frequently we see them struggling or dangerously making their way through the learning curve, where qualified instruction from guides coaches or mentors would have made that transition quicker and safer. This, and other small safety tricks are critical to a safe and enjoyable day out at the crags!
MMG Guide, Alexa Siegel on Social Outcast
If you’re curious about seeing Petzl’s tech tip on cleaning draws in its entirety you can go here:
If you wish to geek out as the weather gets to cold or wet for climbing, here is the whole database of tech tips:
For many sports one suffers along the way, there will be sweating and pain, then the prize comes as one reaches the finish line.
In climbing the ultimate prize is the summit, the peak of the climb. The high fives and cheers are at the end of the route or on the top of the peak.
This Red Rocks trip has been full of suffering, sweating and then cheers. Many of the approaches are long, and for us the routes have been quite challenging. When Terry and I top out together a sigh of relief comes upon us. It is then the smiles come from another amazing route completed together. This is our scene together on the rocks and its been this way for over thirty years.
As you will see in the photos Terry and I very much enjoy the tough challenges along the way.
The high points, the lofty summits, the outstanding views keep us coming back for more!!!
On are way into Black Velvet Canyon.
Terry powering through the cruxes of two very different climbs.
Yoga = Balance, Power, Focus!!!
Dream of Wild Turkeys – a three star route on some very fine rock.
Overview of the Red Rock Canyons from fossil ridge.
The Great Red Book.
Frogland and Black Velvet.
Terry guiding me for the day on Frogland.
High on the wall – friction moves and thin cracks.
Another day in paradise.
Hanging belay stations – high on a route called Unimpeachable Groping.
The cheers after a long day on the rock – we are at the base of the routes just completed.
Next March and April MMG will be back in Red Rocks – join us for your spring fling on the rock!!!
Mammut has produced top quality climbing ropes for almost 150 years!!!
The set of Revelation ropes pictured are my personal top choice of ropes for high end multi pitch rock or ice routes. I have used these ropes for well over ten years and my reasons are clear – the Revelation is a high quality lightweight rope with outstanding handling for climbing and belaying. The super dry treatment has a couple of benefits. The ropes are resistant to dirt and water and the slick finish provides exceptional glide and friction properties on the rock. When used as a set – two of these ropes slide with ease through the direct belay device with two climbers in action.
These Mammut Ropes have many features that set them as a leader in the industry and make a big difference for climbers and guides on the rock, ice and alpine routes.
Colorful sheath twines of the Revelation in Ocean and Duodess.
Revelations in action – two ropes used like one.
Grib and Bill climbing Kurts Corner – I am using a direct belay with a self locking belay plate off the master point of the anchor. This allows the two climbers to move together – efficiency and speed is achieved over a long route.
Cannon Cliff – New Hampshire.
Cannon is a high end alpine rock and ice climbing area which stands alone in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire. Cannon is known for longer complex multi pitch routes, unpredictable fractured rock and unstable mountain weather. This adds up to high end excitement in the mountains.
Finger of Fate – the above shark fin feature is hanging on by a thread!!!
Bill, Grib and I climbed the Whitney Gilman last spring. We had an such an amazing day on Cannon we planned this climbing trip – the ascent of Moby Grape.
Moby Grape 5.8 – Grade III
May seem like a simple undertaking when viewed from the guide book.
Actually Moby Grape is one of the longest 5.8 crack routes in the area. There are many difficult cruxes, the route finding is complex, and the length just keep on coming. Nine pitches of quality climbing set you on top of the world – views below of the Pemi Valley and across to the summit of Lafayette.
The striking Whitney Gilman Ridge.
Bill climbing the sharp cracks leading up to the stout triangle roof moves.
Committed to the Core
Mammut USA – – Bill (CEO) and Gribbin (Marketing Manager) at work in the mountains.
Personally I am very proud to be included as one of the sponsored Mammut Athletes and my commitment stands strong. For over ten years I have put Mammut products to the test at my work while guiding and at play pushing the grades climbing on the rock and ice routes. The exceptional quality, innovative design, functionality have made these clothing and technical products stand out as the best in the industry.
Yesterday was a blast – it was a pleasure to get out and climb with Bill and Grib. Another day is in the works for the ice – which is coming fast. Yesterdays cool morning showed a taste to come of the flavor of winter.
Much Thanks to Bill and Grib for believing in Mooney Mountain Guides and myself.
Kavu – Klear Above Visibility Unlimited!!!
Yes it was that type of day. For Jerry and I this meant revisiting a few of the local test pieces at Cathedral Ledge. We found ourselves at the Barber Wall in the early morning for a run on the steep slanting route named Chicken Delight. This is a delight of a crack for sure as we found out in a short time!!!
Our move from here took us down to Diedre – a classic 5.9 route. Cracks, corners, chimney moves and a roof or two – this route keeps on giving right up to the last move. Jerry was on fire as he sent each pitch, by mid afternoon we were on top. Our hands and arms were feeling the punch for sure.
A bit to early to call it a day so we opted for one final pitch on They Died Laughing. We certainly laughed during this day, tons of good moves and lots of fun was had!!!
Jerry lay backing on the Chicken Delight.
A bit of scrappy 5.6 to start Diedre.
A problematic roof for many, unlocking a tricky sequence will get you across.
Jerry completing the final roof moves onto the belay ledge.
This is the sustained classic 5.8/9 corner. Beautiful rock, great moves, a steep pitch – this one is a gem.
Jerry pulling into the final move to the top.
Steep moves lead to a jam – then a scrappy mantle to top out.
Taped hands did the trick.
They Died Laughing – North End Cracks.
Awesome day on the granite cracks!!!